Characters: Ryo, Dee, JJ, Drake, Ted, Marty, Jim, Chief Smith, Mother, OCs.
Setting: After Like Like Love.
Summary: It’s December, and singing Christmas Carols takes seven friends somewhere they never expected to be.
Word Count: 1774
Written For: Challenge 46: Sing at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Surprisingly, it was Ryo who started it. He and Dee had just arrived back in the squad room, returning from investigating a suspected murder that had turned out to be a false alarm when the supposed deceased arrived home very much alive. The screams that the neighbours had heard turned out to have been from the woman’s pet cat, whose tail had been accidentally shut in a door, and she’d been at the vet’s with her phone turned off ever since.
All the way back to the precinct, Ryo had been in a good mood, humming along to Christmas Carols on the radio, and as he started typing up his report he began to sing Silent Night in a clear tenor voice. Almost immediately, Dee joined in, adding his baritone. He’d sung in Mother’s little orphanage choir when he was younger and still remembered everything he’d learned back then about singing.
That was more temptation than JJ, slave to all things Christmassy, could resist, and soon a third voice was raised in song, half an octave higher than Ryo, adding harmony. It didn’t take much encouragement from JJ to get Drake to join in, followed by Marty adding his deep bass to the mix.
Despite being completely unrehearsed, they sounded pretty good, and the Chief came out of his office to see what was going on.
“Since when do we have a choir?” he asked, bemused.
“Since maybe five minutes ago,” Dee replied with a grin. “What d’you think?”
“Hmph. Not bad, just don’t let practising interfere with your work.”
“Practising?” Now they were all confused.
“For the Christmas Choir contest. Amateur choirs from all over the city are taking part. I only know because a couple of other precincts are entering. Now my wife wants to form a choir with some of her friends, but none of them can carry a tune in a bucket.” The Chief stumped back into his office and shut the door, then it opened again and he stuck his head out. “If you’re entering you’d better beat the goddamned Brooklyn precinct. The new captain there is a jackass and I don’t want him lording it over me because of some singing contest!”
“We should totally enter,” JJ said. “It would be great. I bet we could beat Brooklyn easily.”
Dee looked around at the others. “It’s not a bad idea. How about it?”
Ryo smiled. “It could be fun.”
“Count me in,” Marty agreed. “I’ve met Brooklyn’s new captain, and jackass is putting it mildly.”
Drake shrugged. “Why not? The worst we can do is come last.”
“We’ll do better than that,” JJ said firmly. “You’ll see.”
They roped in Ted, and Jim from the lab, because five seemed too few for a choir, sent in an entry form, and got on with practicing whenever they could find the time. As soon as Mother heard about what they were doing, she insisted on coaching them as well as being their conductor, and by the time Christmas Eve, the day of contest, rolled around, they figured they were as ready as they were going to get.
The contest was to be held in the evening at Radio City, and would be broadcast simultaneously over the radio so those who couldn’t get a ticket could listen at home. When the little choir from the twenty-seventh precinct arrived, the place was already packed.
“I hadn’t realised we’d be singing in front of so many people,” Drake said nervously.
“Just keep your eyes on Mother and you won’t even notice them,” Dee told him. “Same goes for the rest of you.” Of them all, only Dee and JJ seemed unaffected by nerves. “You’ll all be fine. None of the choirs are made up of professionals, so they’ll all be feeling just as nervous.”
“Look at this!” JJ said excitedly, waving a piece of paper. “We’re twenty-seventh on the program out of thirty-five. That has to be an omen of some kind.”
“More like a coincidence,” Dee told him. “But at least it means we’ll be able to hear most of our competition before we take our turn.”
“Where’s Brooklyn on the list?” Ryo asked. “We should pay extra attention to them, so we know what we have to beat; as long as we place higher than they do the Chief will be happy.”
“Ummm…” JJ ran his finger down the list. “Here they are, Brooklyn Blues, they’re on nineteenth.”
“Eight ahead of us, good, we’ll have time to hear them before we have to get ready.”
“I still think we should have come up with a better name than Seven Friends,” Jim said.
“There’s seven of us and we’re friends,” JJ shrugged. “Besides, it’s only for one night, it’s not like we’re switching careers.”
“Come on, let’s find a good spot to watch from.” Small though he was, JJ was happy to take charge of his friends, and they followed meekly, except for one.
“I’ll join you in a minute, I want to check on Mother first.” Dee headed in the opposite direction to where Mother was sitting in a comfortable chair, sipping tea and avidly watching everything going on around her.
“We won’t be on for quite a while yet,” he said, crouching down beside her. “Is there anything you need?”
“I don’t think so, everyone is being very kind.”
“Of course they are, the probably don’t get a lot of nuns backstage,” Dee teased.
“You have nothing to be nervous about, Dee.” Mother smiled at him warmly.
“I’m not nervous!”
Mother looked at him sternly. “I raised you, Dee, you can’t hide anything from me so don’t bother trying.
“Okay, so maybe I’m a little nervous, but not as bad as the others. I’ve sung on stage before, but most of them haven’t. I told them they should just keep their eyes on you.”
“Good advice, if they’re looking elsewhere they might miss their cues. Don’t worry.” She squeezed his hand. “I’ll talk to them before we go on.”
“Thanks, I just hope nobody freezes up. I’m most worried about Drake, he’s looking a bit shaky.”
“JJ will settle him down. You’ll see.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“I am,” she said firmly.
Leaving Mother, Dee rejoined the others and watched as choir after choir took to the stage. Some were amazing, others made mistakes, two people fainted, and one soloist stepped forward too far and fell off the stage, which caused some hilarity in the audience. The singer was boosted back onto the stage and allowed to start again, but the experience had shaken him and his voice wavered.
“Poor guy,” JJ whispered. “He’s really going to get it from the rest of his choir. They were doing so well.”
Each choir got to perform two songs, with a third in reserve for if they got through to the final ten. The guys of the twenty-seventh precinct had chosen Silent Night and Let There Be Peace On Earth, with Oh Holy Night in reserve. They forgot all about being nervous as they listened to the other choirs, swept away by the familiar songs, and before they knew it, Mother was hustling them into order.
“Come along, boys, we’re up next.”
“Already?” Drake sounded a little worried.
“You’ll be just fine, Drakey,” JJ assured him. “I’ll be right beside you the whole time.” Leaning up, JJ gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “There, that’s for luck, not that you’ll need it.”
Drake blushed faintly. “Oh, I think I’ll always need a kiss from you for luck.” He was still grinning a bit goofily as they stepped out on stage.
They were one of the smallest choirs in the contest; most had a dozen or more members, but as Dee whispered to his friends, “When it comes to choirs, size doesn’t matter. The more people there are, the harder it is to keep everyone in harmony. Besides, we’re just doin’ this for fun; as long as we enjoy it, nothing else really matters.” They took their places and focussed their attention on Mother, who smiled proudly at them. Her smile was infectious and they couldn’t keep from smiling back. Then the music started, and everything else fell away as they each came in on cue.
Ryo was the lead, with the others’ voices weaving around his, adding layers and harmonies. The little choir went through both their songs with only a couple of minor mistakes that the audience probably wouldn’t notice, although the judges might. It was with a twinge of disappointment that they reached the end of their second song, allowing their final notes to fade away into silence. The applause afterwards was startling, as they’d almost forgotten they were in front of an audience.
Trooping offstage, they clustered in the wings to watch the last eight choirs perform, and then there was a break while the judges deliberated over their final ten.
The first surprise was that the seven friends made the cut while Brooklyn Blues just missed out, being placed eleventh.
“Hah!” said Chief Smith, who’d joined his men backstage. “That’ll stick in that jackass’s craw! Didn’t think you losers could do it, but you proved me wrong!”
“How did your wife’s choir get on, Sir?” Ryo asked.
“Twenty-fifth, she’s happy enough.” Chief Smith smiled benignly. “All she cared about was not coming last. Now, get out there and knock ‘em dead, Randy!”
“Yes, Sir,” Ryo replied as they took their places in line to go back on.
Everyone was more relaxed this time. They’d already got further than they’d expected, so whatever happened now they felt like winners. Going back on stage, they gave it everything they’d got, singing their hearts out, for themselves and for Mother. They’d have to think of some way to repay her for all her hard work with them over the past three weeks.
Their final song went better than the first two, and when the results were announced, they found they’d come in fifth place. That put them outside the prizes, which went to the top four, but none of them cared; fifth out of thirty-five was something to be proud of.
“That was so much fun!” JJ said enthusiastically. “I was thinking, we’ve only been doing this a few weeks, but we’re pretty good. Maybe we should keep practicing; think how much better we’ll be by next year!”
“JJ has a point,” Drake agreed. “I’ve really enjoyed singing with you guys, it would be kind of a shame just to stop.”
They all looked at each other, considering the idea. It was definitely something to think about.